Our contemporary culture tends to ignore the season of Advent preparation, but also ignores the season of Christmas. Christmas in our day is a shopping “season” that begins in October (or even earlier) and runs through December 24. A day of feasting and feverishly opening presents follows on December 25, but then by December 26 many folks are ready to put Christmas behind them. The Christian church, however, has for centuries observed Christmas as a thirteen-day season beginning on Christmas Day and ending on Epiphany, when the presentation of Jesus in the temple is commemorated. When we ignore both the season of Advent preparation and the season of Christmas, we lose something of the richness of meaning in these seasons that can enhance our worship and celebration.
Paul called on the Corinthians to examine themselves, repent of their sin, and live their lives to please and glorify God. He summarized his message this way: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV). That is a word for us today. As we read Paul’s challenge to the Corinthians then, we hear the same challenge being made to us today. The season of Lent is a season of reflection. The forty days leading up to Jesus’ Passion have historically been used by Christians for personal examination – to look within, to take stock of our spiritual health, and to reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus for our sins. As we enter this holy season, I believe the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians gives us many points for reflection as we examine our lives.